March 29, 2013. The 16-cent decrease in gas prices and pleasant weather predictions will positively impact travel this upcoming Easter holiday weekend, according to AAA Carolinas.
Since peaking at $3.80 on Feb. 22, the average cost of a gallon of gas in North Carolina has fallen to $3.64.
Gas prices typically increase in the early spring months, when refineries perform maintenance and make the switch over to summer-blend production, reducing supply.
This year, the increase occurred earlier than usual, rising 58 cents from $3.22 on Dec. 20 to $3.80 on Feb. 22, before trending back downward. Many refineries have yet to transition to summer-blend gasoline, so it’s uncertain whether prices have peaked for the spring.
“The good news is that we’re paying 25 cents per gallon less than last Easter, and gas prices continue to decline,” said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. “As we head into the summer travel season, we expect prices to remain lower than what we saw last year, barring any supply issues or tensions in the Middle East.”
In 2012, Easter fell on April 8, roughly a week later than this year.
The Fayetteville area has the highest-priced gasoline in North Carolina at $3.68; High Point has the cheapest at $3.56.
Although the Easter holiday isn’t traditionally a heavy travel weekend, many North Carolina schools are on Spring Break, which increases traffic congestion and demand for gas.
According to AAA Travel, popular spring destinations include North and South Carolina beaches, Walt Disney World Resort and the Caribbean.
Motorists looking for ways to conserve gasoline while traveling should keep the following tips in mind:
– Monitor driving behavior, follow the speed limit and avoid accelerating or decelerating quickly. For every five miles per hour over 65 mph, gasoline efficiency decreases 10 percent.
– Make sure tires are properly inflated to maximize fuel economy. See your owner’s manual for the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle.
– Keep vehicles properly maintained, including scheduled oil changes and air filter replacements.
– Avoid excess weight in your vehicle. When vacationing, try to avoid strapping luggage on the roof where it causes drag and reduces fuel economy.
– Whenever possible, consolidate trips.
To estimate fuel costs, travelers can go to www.fuelcostcalculator.com to input starting city, destination, and the make and model of their car. The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone and Android devices uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find updated gas prices, view nearby member discounts and access AAA roadside assistance.